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Mud, mud, and more mud

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by debkichline, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. debkichline

    debkichline Out Of The Brooder

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    My girls have scratched up every piece of vegetation in their fenced area. I live in a city and have a small back yard. The girls are at the bottom of the yard and have an area about the size of a house trailer to roam in. I give them scrap veggies and the occasional cabbage on a bungee cord (highly entertaining). They are fed daily and there is usually extra feed left in the pan when I go to put more out. Is there something I can do to keep them busy during the day so some of the vegetation can grow back or is the bare yard just standard fare for chickens?
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    A bare yard/run is pretty much standard for chickens, they are incredibly destructive of greenery. Sand is really popular as a base for chicken yards as a good way to keep things dry... not sure if you have seen them but there are a couple of nice articles in the Learning Center on using Sand in coops and runs and muddy runs in general. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-fix-a-muddy-run-chicken-coop and https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/444759/got-sand-you-should and https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/using-sand-in-your-chicken-coop
     
  3. tcstoehr

    tcstoehr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Probably not. One thing I've learned about chickens is that they enjoy variety. No matter what delectable delights are available to them they will still make the rounds and eat every single food source available to them.
     
  4. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No vegetation in the run can out grow chickens. You can grow vegetation in pots, trays or pans and bring them into the run. They will go through the plants quickly too.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Once, many years ago when I first got chickens, I experimented with growing grass outside along the run fence line. I transplanted plugs of native bunch grass and rain predictably ran down the fence onto the grass, and it grew and poked itself through the fence, and the chickens were more than happy to keep it trimmed.

    Anything that had the audacity to grow inside the run was quickly vanquished. I once timed the length of time it took for five hens to eat a pot of parsley, roots and all - five minutes. Like African army ants, chickens level everything edible.
     
  6. debkichline

    debkichline Out Of The Brooder

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    Alrighty then. They have also eaten all of the grass they could reach THROUGH the fence. Hence, we have a line of bare dirt along the outside of fence as well. Since my 14 year old son "manages" the flock, I will put his engineering brain to work and see if he can find any solutions. If I find anything, I will be sure to post the results.
     
  7. KittyKat3756

    KittyKat3756 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We found that "keeping" a lawn actually works well with our girls. If they lawn is not kept, they destroy it overnight, but if it's trimmed neatly and poo-picked, then it ends up bring the lushest lawn on the street. This is coming from experience as we've had it both ways since we've had the chickens. It helps a lot if they have plenty to keep themselves occupied.

    You can also build a frame out of 2×2 with a solid mesh on top, seed an area of the coop and pop the mesh over it. The chickens shouldn't be able to scratch the seed out, but should be able to nibble the grass.

    If you're desperate, you can always plant something like mint because once it's established, it's pretty much indestructible. There is also a variety of other shrubbery and plants which is too rough for chickens to eat.
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    I would like to suggest that bare ground does not have to be the status quo in a chicken run, even if that run is small enough that they have stripped it of all vegetation. IMO, bare soil is well on it's way to becoming UN healthy soil. Mind you, this is just my opinion. In a bare chicken run, there is no vegetation to catch the rain run off. All there is is compacted soil, or muddy soil, or dusty soil, and more often than not, it is crusted with chicken poop which is very high in nitrogen, as well as other nutrients. These nutrients are great when balanced, and when they can soak into the soil, and feed the plants and micro-organisms in a well balanced yard. But a bare run with a nutrient overload becomes toxic even to the micro-organisms which would otherwise flourish in the soil. How to fix it? Deep litter. Get as much organic material as you can get your hands on, starting with lots of leaves, adding chopped hay, straw, weeds, grass clippings, stable litter, shavings from the coop, shredded trees from landscaping companies, and layer it into the run. The chickens will spend hours churning this stuff up, it will absorb the chicken poo, and over time, it will attract beneficial micro-organisms and insects, giving the chickens even more goodies to add to their diet. This DL will provide a deep spongy layer, similar to the humus found on a healthy forest floor, and the chicken poo will melt into the ground. NO smell!
     
  9. silkymom

    silkymom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i havnt had birds in 4 yrs , got 6 sex links cause step daughter moved, old fence was bad so i pit up what i could, and its sandy mud right now in michigan, i cut the grass and rake it up and throw it in, im hopeing to let them out soon, if my cattle dog allows, were working with the heeler to take them as his flock like my last one did, dont want any accidents, i agree mudd stinks, good luck to both of us,
     

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